Friday, July 4, 2008


21 years is not long enough to live for a woman like Mandy.

In March of 2000, she made the trip with me and 3 others to watch the Padres in Spring Training. We sang karaoke, she helped me impersonate a professional ball player and we learned about flashing truckers. She loved baseball and had a HUGE crush on Brad "Nice" Ausmus...always trying to score seats behind home plate so she could stare at Brad. She enjoyed food, good food and spicy food. She taught most of us about "White Trash" progressive dinners, racing in shopping carts and how to make a stranger ask about her faith.

21 years was not long enough for those of us who knew her.

The headache was crushing. She tried aspirin and ibuprofen. She tried sleep and rest. She tried to ignore it, but it would not go away. She had to see the doctor. On June 13 her mom took her to the emergency room. The pain was far to great. Something had to be done.

21 years is such a short time.

You couldn't miss a girl like Mandy. Tall and pretty with an unbelievable zest for life. You want to know who was the most popular girl at the party? It was Mandy. The girl so many of the guys wanted to secretly date? Mandy. The leader in the church group? The deviser of plans? The one that would visit you when you were sick, make you laugh until you peed your pants or cry with you until you both had no more tears to give? Mandy, Mandy, and Mandy. Just something about her made everyone want to be her friend...and she obliged.

21 years goes by so fast.

A softball sized tumor was in her brain. They thought they might be able to operate, pull it out, do radiation and chemo and then maybe, just maybe she might be okay...but probably not. Mandy took it in. Thought for a moment, then smiled at the doctor. She said "Doc, let's do what we have to do."

21 years should not be a lifetime.

Her faith was on her sleeve. It always had been and some little tumor was not going to change that. It did not matter where she was or what she was doing, Mandy lived her life by two principles...Love God and Love People. It was no different during her short time in the hospital. Nurses and doctors, strangers and loved ones, every single person that got to see her during this time got to see what it was to Love God and Love People. That guiding principle led her to enjoy life like so few do.

21 years can't be all that she got. Not her.

The surgery was successful. "There may be some complications" the doctors said, but it went well. Radiation and chemo were to start in a few days. Mandy rested and the rest of us prayed. 7 days later we got a call, the tumor had returned and it was already the size of a golf ball. Despite the "successful" surgery, Mandy's tumor was back. There was nothing that could be done. 3 weeks to the day of entering the ER, Mandy died. July 4, 2000.

21 years was all she had.

The funeral was later that week. The church was meant to hold 250...there were over 500 there. They were in the entryway...they were in the patio...they were in the parking lot. 500 people. There were only 100 invited. They were all there to say goodbye to Mandy.
21 years lived the way they should be.

At one point during the service, Pastor asked how many people's faith in God was impacted by Mandy...EVERYONE raised their hand. She was not perfect...she did not always say the right thing...she certainly did not fit the mold of a "good little church girl"...but she walked the way she talked...her faith guiding every step of the way.

21 years is all we got of her.

She is missed often, spoke about occasionally and certainly not forgotten.

July 4 is my reminder...21-years...She lived them right.


Mary Alice said...

oh crap I am crying all over my keyboard. Beautiful tribute to a beautiful young woman.

May people keep her spirit going here on earth by also being
"The deviser of plans?
The one that would visit you when you were sick, make you laugh until you peed your pants or cry with you until you both had no more tears to give?"

If we could all be a little more like Mandy it sounds like we could make the world a better place.

Nashville? said...

She was a keeper (grin). I am positive that her parents would thank you and the girls yet again. Somehow that summer seems to be about 100 years ago though, yeah? Nice tribute sir, thank you.

Schell Family said...

Well said Bogart - an beautiful tribute to a beautiful girl. A few tears have fallen on my keyboard today.

Coffee Bean said...

That was very moving and inspiring. You were blessed to have been a part of her life.

PracticallyJoe said...

Well done ... I can feel the love and admiration. I believe she loves reading your blog from the heavens.

The Charming Hedonist said...

I'm sitting in my office right now and trying not to cry because it's so true. It's not enough time.

My boss' daughter has a brain tumor, and when I think about it, that's what I think: It's not enough time.

Beautiful words, Bogie. Beautiful.

LvL said...

What an awesome job you've done capturing someone's spirit in a few words. I think that is exactly what is meant by the idea that people really do live on in memories. Because in your words, Mandy, who I've never heard of before, is alive and inspiring. Thanks for sharing her memory and her life.

Amy said...

I just got the chills reading this as well as tears in my eyes. I am sorry for your loss. Even so many years later, your thoughts and memories are beautiful. It sounds like Mandy was sent here for a reason.

Debra W said...

What an amazing tribute for an exquisite young lady. And you are right, my friend, 21 years is NOT enough time. I am so sorry for your loss, but I am also encouraged by all that you gained by knowing somebody like your dear friend, Mandy. Her spirit lives on when you share her with others, Bogart.


Becky said...

I'm already depressed, and now this?

I really admire your writing ability. You have a very poignant and sensitive style...and of course there is some good ol' humor sprinkled on top of most of it.

Thanks for sharing this...and for reminding me that if I have problems that can be solved with money, I really don't have problems at all.

The Maid

WILLIAM said...

Very nice rememberance of Mandy.

kimmy said...

Beautiful post...I know she must be smiling right now :)


Wonderful World of Weiners said...

This is simply beautiful.

Thanks for saying a pray for Shmoops. He needs it big time.

Riding dead, huh? Sounds like a perfect description.


Katelin said...

what a sweet post. mandy sounds like she was an amazing person. :)

Stacie said...

that is a beautiful post!